Come out of her my people" -- Jesus Christ
HE WHO NOW LETTETH -- DANIEL 2
HE WHO NOW LETTETH
2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let [restrain], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Here Paul explained that there was something [a what], who was also a someone [a he], who was hindering the appearance of the Antichrist; but he explained that when this restraining entity was removed then the Wicked one would be revealed.
Let’s first consider the futurist interpretation of these verses. The futurist, who teaches a pre-tribulation rapture, tells us that the restraining entity is the Holy Ghost, and that when the Holy Ghost is taken away at the rapture of the Church, then the Anti-Christ would be revealed, setting in motion the other prophecies of the Bible. Thus they make this prophecy void of any real meaning to the Christian.
But is this a Biblical interpretation? Absolutely not. Why? First of all, because it completely contradicts verse three of this chapter, which tells us that Christ will not come and the Church will not be gathered until after “The Man of Sin is revealed”. Secondly, if Paul was meaning the Holy Spirit, he would have had said so. Thirdly, by telling the Thessalonians “you know what withholdeth”, and then using improper pronouns to refer to it, it is clear that it was something that the apostle thought not safe openly to declare in his writing.
When proper exegesis is done upon these verses it becomes plain that Paul was referring to a power with civil authority that was headed up by a man, which he knew was hindering the rise of the Anti-Christ. What entity was it? What was Paul referring to? What had to be taken away before the man of sin could come to power? We will let the Church from the earliest times answer:
Tertullian, who lived from 155 AD until 222 AD wrote: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken out of the way.” What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins)? “ – Tertullian On the Resurrection of the Flesh chapter 24
Cyril of Jerusalem (315–386): “But this aforesaid Antichrist is to come when the times of the Roman empire shall have been fulfilled...” First Catechetical Lecture part 15.
Jerome (347–420): "Says the apostle [Paul in the second epistle to the Thessalonians], ‘Unless the Roman Empire should first be desolated, and antichrist proceed, Christ will not come.’"
John Chrysostom [347-407 AD] “What then is it that withholdeth, that is, hindereth him from being revealed? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman empire, to whom I most of all accede. Wherefore? Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly... But because he said this of the Roman empire, he naturally glanced at it, and speaks covertly and darkly.” – Homily IV. 2 Thess ii. 6-9.
This interpretation was held throughout Church history and by the majority of the Great Reformers as seen from the following commentary found in the Geneva Bible of 1599.
Geneva Bible (1599) “He who is now in authority and rules all, that is the Roman Empire [but] when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God [Anti-christ] will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it.”
Also many of the most recognized Bible Commentaries agree that Paul was indeed speaking of the Roman Empire. For instance:
“Antichrist, was thus kept in check by the Roman emperor” – Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
“but by that which withheld, let or hindered the open appearance of antichrist, were the Roman empire and emperors” – John Gill’s Expositor.
“the Roman emperor and empire as most probably meant here by the apostle; and therefore he wrote not plainly, lest by writing of the taking away that empire, which the Romans thought to be eternal, he might stir up their hatred against the Christians.” – Matthew Poole’s Commentary.
“The most natural interpretation is that which refers it to [the] civil power [of Rome], meaning that there was something in the form of the existing administration which would prevent this development until that restraint should be removed.” – Barnes New Testament Notes.
“this development [revealing of anti-christ] could not take place until pagan imperial Rome fell. We know that it did withhold, or prevent it.” – People’s New Testament Notes
As you can see dear reader the Doctrine of Futurism and a pre-tribulation rapture make these important prophecies meaningless and unprovable! Where as the Historic View keeps these prophecies in the focus of the Church and actually proves the Inspiration of Scriptures. I am certain that the reader will be amazed at the accuracy of Bible Prophecy once it is considered from the historical view of the Church. So if you will, open your Bible with me and we will discover history through the pages of Divinely Inspired Scriptures.
The Book of Daniel And the Fall of the Roman Empire.
The question is: Why did the early historic Church all believe that the Roman Empire must first collapse before the Man of Sin could come to power? It is because of their knowledge and in-depth study of the Book of Daniel. The Book of Daniel was written about 550 BC, and in it the Man of Sin was clearly foretold, but according to Daniel he could only arise from one place, the smoking ruins of the divided Roman Empire. And thus Paul rightly taught the Thessalonians that as long as the Empire was united under Caesar the man of sin could not be revealed, for the Scriptures cannot be broken or in other words: What was prophesied beforehand must come to pass. Let’s consider the following chapter of Daniel.
The World Empires Set In Order – Daniel Chapter Two
As we begin to read chapter two of Daniel, we find that God had given King Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty King of Babylon a dream. This dream troubled his very soul, but he could not remember the contents of it. After calling for the astrologers, magicians and sorcerers, he commanded them to make known the dream, and then interpret it. The pagans answered, "There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler that asked, such things at any magician, or astrologer or chaldean". Because of their answer the king ordered that all the wise men of his kingdom be destroyed. When Daniel, the young Hebrew captive, heard of the matter, he asked for time so that he could seek the God of Israel for the answer. Shortly afterward Daniel appeared before the king, and made known the dream and the interpretation of it. Amazingly the dream sets forth the course of the whole world, from the time of Daniel until the Second Advent of Christ. The following is the dream as told by the prophet Daniel:
“Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This images head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs part iron, his feet part of iron and part clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:31-35
Daniel’s Interpretation of the Dream.
Daniel then explained to Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream [Daniel 2:37-43]; saying: The head of gold represented the ruler of Babylon. The breast of silver is another kingdom that would come after Babylon. What Kingdom came after Babylon? We know that Medo-Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BC and is actually named in Daniel 8:20. Daniel then explained to the king that the belly of brass represents the third kingdom. Which Kingdom came after Medo-Persia? We know from history that Greece under the leadership of Alexander the Great conquered Persia around 330 B.C.. Amazingly the Empire of Greece is named in Daniel 8:21, which was written two hundred years before Greece conquered Persia!.
Daniel then interprets the iron to represent the fourth kingdom, which would rise after Greece. We know that Rome is this fourth kingdom (Luke 2:1).Rome became the prominent Empire over Greece (which was divided into four dynasties at the time) around 180 B.C. and then Rome captured Palestine in 63 B.C., ending Greece's (Syrian) rule in Palestine.
Yet Daniel predicted the following would happen to this Roman Empire:
“And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided” Daniel 2:41.
Was the Roman Empire divided? Yes. The Roman Empire fell and was divided into ten nations in 476 AD, one thousand years after Daniel had written this prophecy.. History tells us that Romulus Augustulus, who was the last Emperor of the west, was sent into exile by the German Odoacer in 476 AD, thus ending the Western Roman Empire. .
Daniel then finishes his interpretation by foretelling the Coming of Christ:
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed... and it shall stand forever."
Thus according to Daniel, Christ would come to reign on this earth after the Roman Empire was divided. This is the historic interpretation of this chapter which has been held by the Church since the days of the Apostles. This can be seen by the following explanation of Daniel chapter two as given by Bishop Hippolytus [170-236 AD] who lived two hundred and fifty years before the Roman Empire fell.
“Behold a great image.” How, then, should we not mark the things prophesied of old in Babylon by Daniel, and now yet in the course of fulfillment in the world? For the image shown at that time to Nebuchadnezzar furnished a type of the whole world. In these times the Babylonians were sovereign over all, and these were the golden head of the image. And then, after them, the Persians held the supremacy for 245 years, and they were represented by the silver. Then the Greeks had the supremacy, beginning with Alexander of Macedon, for 300 years, so that they were the brass. After them came the Romans, who were the iron legs of the image, for they were strong as iron. Then (we have) the toes of clay and iron, to signify the democracies that were subsequently to rise, partitioned among the ten toes of the image, in which shall be iron mixed with clay.” – Hippolytus Exegetical On Daniel 2
This is one of the reasons Paul told the Thessalonians : Don’t be “soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” He knew that as long as the Roman Empire remained united under Caesar Christ would not come, for the Scriptures cannot be broken.